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SAAS Junior Selected for Competitive Biomedical Summer Program

Photo of seattle academy student tess barton '19

Above: Tess Barton '19

Earlier this month, the Center for Infectious Disease Research announced that Seattle Academy junior Tess Barton will be one of just thirty-six applicants selected to participate in their nationally recognized, summer outreach program 2018 BioQuest Academy ( The mission of the academy is to “Educate, train, and promote college-readiness of participants in the science of global infectious disease.” CIDR is Seattle’s first global health organization – and the largest independent, non-profit devoted solely to infectious disease research.

Tess credits her acceptance to the highly competitive BioQuest program on two critical factors:

  • First, based on strength gained  through all the STEM classes she elects to take at SAAS; including yearlong Honors Biology with Hannah Chapin concurrently with Honors Advanced Chemistry with Martin Brakke and numerous STEM electives.
  • Second, Tess is quick to acknowledge that the key teacher recommendation by Hannah Chapin sealed the deal!

During the first part of BioQuest, Tess will learn through interactive global health lectures, hands on laboratory experiences, and interactions with CIDR scientists the following:

  • Infectious diseases epidemiology
  • Your normal microbial flora
  • Sterile microbiological culture techniques
  • Use of a compound and dissecting microscope
  • Liquid handling (micropipetting)
  • Anopheles mosquito dissection
  • Measuring gene expression and transcription rates
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)
  • Agarose gel electrophoresis
  • Gram stain techniques
  • Antimicrobials, drug development and testing for resistance
  • The human immune system and vaccine development
  • Blood separation
  • ELISAs
  • DNA Forensics and restriction fragment analysis

In the second phase at BioQuest, student researchers will work on one of these team based projects, answering scientific questions using real samples from Center for Infectious Disease Research!

  • The HIV team, hard at work: How can we measure what is the best vaccine against HIV? Exploring the affinity purification of circulating HIV IgG antibodies from serum, analyzing antibody purity by SDS polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and Western blot analysis, and by measuring antibody titers by ELISA.
  • The malaria team analyzes data: How can we determine if a malaria vaccine will be protective against all malaria parasites throughout the world? Using the power of DNA sequencing and bioinformatics analysis to look at the genetic variation in DNA prepared from malaria parasites from different parts of the world. Students will clone these gene fragments, and determine if the protein encoded in these diverse DNA samples would be a reliable vaccine antigen to protect against worldwide malaria.
  • The tuberculosis team: How does Mycobacterium tuberculosis adapt to life inside the human host? Investigating the impact of their own, unique experimental sample conditions on a safe cousin Mycobacterium smegmatis using molecular techniques such as mRNA extraction, cDNA synthesis and gene expression analysis. Using lab results, students will propose novel drug targets for tuberculosis.

BioQuest Academy is all-inclusive opportunity and has no associated costs to the thirty-six selected participants.  CIDR offers BioQuest graduates priority consideration for future volunteer opportunities and paid internships.

Congratulations to Tess and her family!